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Dik-Diks - Territorial Behavior

male territory offspring female

Another distinctive aspect of dik-dik territorial behavior is a ritual that accompanies defecation and urination. The female urinates first, then defecates on a pile of dung that marks their territory. The male waits behind her while she squats during this activity. He then sniffs, scrapes, squats, and deposits his urine and feces over the female's. Some scent marking of neighboring plants is also part of this ritual. There can be between 6-13 such locations around a dik-dik pair's territory.

The male dik-dik defends the territory from both male and female intruders. Generally, conflicts over territory are infrequent. While rival males will engage in a rushing ritual, they rarely attack one another physically. The offspring of a dik-dik pair is allowed to remain in the territory until it reaches maturity, which is about six months for females and twelve months for male offspring. The male dik-dik usually intervenes when the mature male offspring tries to approach the mother. The adult male challenge leads to submissive behavior by the younger male. Eventually, the male or female offspring are driven from the territory but they quickly bond with another young dik-dik in an unclaimed territory.


Resources

Books

Estes, Richard D. Behavior Guide to African Mammals. Berkeley: University of California, 1991.

The Safari Companion. Post Mills, VT: Chelsea Green, 1993.


Vita Richman

KEY TERMS

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Bovids

—A family of mammals (Bovidae) that is characterized by having even-toed hooves, horns, a four-chambered stomach, and a cud-chewing habit.

Rumination

—Fermentation of plant materials by microorganisms in the four-chambered stomach of bovids, including periods of regurgitation and rechewing (cud chewing).

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